Archive for Thursday, August 2, 2001

Patrons remain silent about possible school bond issue

August 2, 2001

A possible $90 million bond issue should get people's attention, but De Soto school board members said district residents have been mostly mum on the subject.

The De Soto school board will decide Monday whether to proceed with a bond issue, which would be based on the recommendations of the facilities focus group. The board's busy agenda also has it making an up-or-down decision on NetSchools Inc.'s laptop computer program.

Despite the importance of the impending decisions, De Soto board member Jim Plummer said district residents have been mostly silent on both issues.

"I haven't really had any phone calls on it," he said. "People are sort of used to the idea bond issues are going to come up. It's not like when we started out.

"The only thing I've heard about NetSchools is how we're going to do it for school all at once. When I tell them it will be phased in at different schools or grade levels, they seem satisfied."

The facilities focus group has recommended $90 million in new schools, technology upgrades, athletic fields, land acquistion and other projects. If district voters approve a bond issue to finance the projects, they would be phased in as needed in a five-part schedule. The latest proposed schedule is:

Phase one a new $12.3 million elementary school at Clare Road and 55th Street, additional office replacement at Monticello Trails, $4.5 million for land acquisition and $2 million for new technology and $3 million for new baseball and softball fields at the central complex.

Phase two a $3 million addition to Mill Valley High School, $1.5 million for new technology $500,000 for books and $11.4 million to construct the central maintenance facility, performing arts center and technology training center at the central location.

Phase three a $13 million replacement for Woodsonia Elementary, $2.5 million for land acquisition and $1 million for new technology.

Phase four $15 million new middle school, $3.6 million for central football and soccer stadiums and $1 million for new technology.

Phase five a $13.75 central or western elementary school and $1 million for new technology.

Plummer said he anticipated comments concerning a recommendation to include a $6.6 million central athletic complex in the bond issue. But, he said, patrons haven't contacted him about that issue either.

Marie Gillihan of De Soto said she knows new schools are needed, but she is more concerned that the board concentrate on educational priorities.

"They (schools) should be comfortable, but they don't need to be plush," she said.

The district has a track record of using the phase-in approach to keep mill levies steady, said board member Curtis Allenbrand. The proposed bond issue shouldn't raise property tax levies higher than the current level of about 70 mills because the district will only fund and build projects as necessary, he said.

To keep mill levies from soaring, it is important the board matches the phase-in schedule to estimated increases in the district's assessed valuation, said at-large board member Marsha Bennett, Shawnee. The board is to get those projections Monday, she said.

Like the other board members, Bennett said she has heard little comment about the bond issue, a silence she attributed to summer. The parent communication networks that stimulate discussion close down with the schools, she said. Patrons still have an opportunity to express concerns to the school board.

"I hope we have a good turnout Monday," she said. "It's an opportunity to get more information and let us know their concerns."

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